UCLA vs. Oregon: How they match up
MATCHUPS: UCLA 1-1 at No. 11 Oregon (2-0)
Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Autzen Stadium.
TV: ESPN2. Radio: 570
UCLA’s quarterback vs. Oregon’s defense. If Dorian Thompson-Robinson is sidelined because of COVID-19 issues, the Bruins will have to go with a backup quarterback who has not thrown a pass at the college level. Chase Griffin would be the expected starter in that scenario based on his having replaced Thompson-Robinson last weekend on the final drive against California. He would face an Oregon defense that has already beaten one set of backup quarterbacks during a season-opening 35-14 victory over Stanford after the Cardinal’s Davis Mills was held out because of a testing error.
UCLA (459 ypg/38 ppg): The absence of Thompson-Robinson would likely lead to a heavy reliance on the ground game. Fortunately for the Bruins, they are well-stocked at tailback. Demetric Felton Jr. (107 yards) and Brittain Brown (71) both set seasons highs in rushing last week against Cal, and the Bruins could also sprinkle in runs involving Kazmeir Allen, Keegan Jones and Martell Irby.
Oregon (538.5 ypg/39 ppg): The Ducks have won with a balanced approach, becoming the only Power Five team to average 250 yards passing and 250 yards rushing per game this season. Quarterback Tyler Shough has contributed heavily to that approach, topping 200 yards passing and 80 yards rushing in each game.
UCLA entered the season without anyone besides Dorian Thompson-Robinson who had thrown a pass at the college level. Will the Bruins’ depth be tested?
UCLA (350.5 ypg/29 ppg): The Bruins’ new 4-2-5 defense was disruptive against the Golden Bears, logging nine tackles for loss and five sacks. Defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa and linebacker Caleb Johnson were the standouts, each finishing with 2½ tackles for loss, while Johnson added an interception. UCLA’s 176 yards allowed in the game was its fewest since giving up 122 against Arizona State in 2008.
Oregon (417 ypg/21.5 ppg): Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux must be accounted for at all times given his ability to get into the backfield. He picked up two tackles for loss last week during the Ducks’ comeback victory over Washington State. Oregon has been especially stingy in the second half this season, allowing only 17 points in two games.
Graduate transfer Qwuantrezz Knight is an early contender to be UCLA’s top defender and most buoyant player as a ‘striker’ in the Bruins’ new 4-2-5 defense.
UCLA’s blockers faltered in the first quarter against Cal, leading to a blocked punt. Freshman Luke Akers has averaged 44.7 yards on his six punts, but the Bruins have not attempted a field goal.
Oregon has shown to be a second-half team, outscoring its first two opponents by a combined 50-17 margin.
Aside from the COVID-19 issues that could sideline UCLA players, the team is expected to be without defensive lineman Martin Andrus Jr. and linebacker Sitiveni Kaufusi because of injuries. … Oregon wide receiver Mycah Pittman, safety Steve Stephens IV, cornerback Daewood Davis and linebacker Justin Flowe are out because of injuries. Tight ends Cam McCormick, Spencer Webb and Patrick Herbert are questionable and tight end Hunter Kampmoyer is probable.
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